Clive Cox said that Harry Angel had “become a man” as he gained a superb victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket and immediately outlined two more QIPCO British Champions Series races for him before the end of the season.
The three-year-old had ground to make up on the re-opposing Caravaggio from their meeting in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, but reversed the form in some style in the hands of Adam Kirby to give Sheikh Mohammed, founder of owners Godolphin, a memorable 68th birthday present.
Just as he had done in Berkshire last month, 9-2 chance Harry Angel made a smart start and tracked Caravaggio’s pacemaker Intelligence Cross for much of the six-furlong contest.
Harry Angel hit the front about a furlong from home and never looked like being beaten from then on under an exultant Adam Kirby.
Cox’s charge galloped all the way to the line to score by a comprehensive length and a quarter from last year’s winner Limato, with Brando running on into third.
Caravaggio, the 10-11 favourite to extend his unbeaten record to seven, was already under pressure and never looked like bridging the gap.
“He’s growing up all the time and he came here with a really good feel,” Cox said. “There isn’t a lot of time between Ascot and here so a lot of it is instinctive but the instinctive impression was very good, right from the moment he came off the track at Ascot to be honest.
“Kevin, who rides him at home, was delighted with the way he came out of Ascot and we were very pleased going into the race at Ascot, but even more happy that he’s become a man.”
The Lambourn trainer added: “He’s won his Group 1 and further progress in the department now looks on the cards, probably starting at Haydock (Sprint Cup) and the QIPCO British Champions Sprint would be another race for him. He is very versatile ground wise so we are lucky in that respect.
“He’s pretty special. This was one of the nicest July Cups I’ve seen in my lifetime and I’m very proud to win it.”
Winning jockey Adam Kirby added: “He proved how good he is today and I’m delighted. He’s a machine, the best you will see for a long time – I truly believe that.”
Harry Bentley was delighted with the run of Limato. He said: “He has run a great race. He picked up fantastic for me and has given me a wonderful feel. I don’t think we could have done anything differently.”
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Brando, who was half a length further back in third, felt the ground was against the five-year-old. “This horse would have liked a bit easier ground but Tom [Eaves] has given him a great ride and he got him to relax and he finished his race great.
“The Sprint Cup, then Champions Sprint – the programme almost picks itself. I would like to go back to Ascot for Champions Day. He ran there on the back of the Ayr Gold Cup last year, and he will probably have a little bit more time in between this year.”